Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms – do you have the right checks in place?

detectors

It’s been widely reported that landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under measures announced by the then Housing Minister Brandon Lewis back in March 2015.

The Government’s aim is to create a safer private rented sector, and a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning.

There has been recent confusion over the deadline for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in rental properties, however David Cox, managing director of ARLA, has confirmed: “All properties that are let need to have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted from October 1. Landlords and agents will then have to ensure that the alarms work (keep receipt/ record of demonstration) at the start of each new tenancy (on or after October 1).

“This does not include renewals under the same conditions (i.e. for the same premises by the same landlord to the same tenant) or a statutory periodic tenancy because by definition they are not new tenancies. Section 4 (4) of the Regulations defines a new tenancy.”

The proposed changes to the law would require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy. Plus landlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed. Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms could face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.

Despite the short timescales for compliance, the expectation is that landlords and agents should do everything they can to be compliant by 1st October.

What checks should be in place?

As a result of this change, the landlord is specifically required to carry out a check to ensure that smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms installed to comply with the Regulations are in proper working order on the day a tenancy begins where it is a new tenancy.

A new tenancy is a tenancy granted on or after 1st October 2015. Although there will be no specific obligation to carry out a check for tenancies which started before this date, landlords should not be under a false sense of security because of this, as there is an ongoing obligation to ensure that any smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm installed to meet these requirements is in working order.

Alarms should therefore be checked periodically to see that they are working properly. There is no reason why this responsibility should not be placed on the tenant but the landlord will then have to make sure that the tenant does actually carry out the checks. If challenged, a landlord could have to show that a proper system has been put in place to check alarms regularly.

The key is making sure you’re doing regular and thorough mid-term visits that include a physical check of both the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarms, and keeping those reports on file, should they be required.

So how can using TouchRight help with compliance? All of our mid-term report templates include testing checks for both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, so your inspectors won’t miss them, with a notes field to add more details and take a photo if further maintenance is required. Taking photos within the TouchRight app stores the photos on your device should you want to save them locally, plus also if you take up a pricing plan that includes report storage we will store them for the account lifetime, should you need them at a later date.

If you’d like more information on TouchRight and how it could help your business please get in touch on 01904 390109 or info@touchrightsoftware.com.

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